How To Embrace Good Health and Wellness in a Pandemic
Okay Boomers, I know this is getting to most of us in one way or another. We’re dealing with a pandemic as an unprecedented event in modern history. And, a lot of you are feeling funky from and the pain of having to be isolated. Or, if you’re a business owner the absolute quandary of when you can reopen. I think they call it cabin fever and loss of purpose, and now COVID-19 has given us a whole new definition to both of those terms. We’re missing the touch of our loved ones, a gentle hug from family and friends, and others of us are just genuinely bored or scared. The whole idea of managing our way through this experience is not unique, because as I’ve mentioned before we survived 9/11, the global financial crisis of 2008 and the SARS, MERS, swine flu and Ebola epidemics.
As I’m often inclined, I do research into specific topics and as you might guess, there is no shortage of information and opinion on this coronavirus. Here are some of the contents of an article I ran across the other day on the topic of wellness and mental health. These are suggestions on how to deal with the effects of all that has transpired over the past weeks, along with your feelings of disassociation during the shutdown.
First and foremost, it is totally normal to feel anxious, confused and with all this uncertainty, quite fearful. According to many experts “there is no right way to handle this situation.” It depends on your individual circumstances and how you wish to treat the matter. You can let it get the best of you or you can journey through it by soliciting advice and sharing stories with family and friends that can help dismiss false hope and create new possibilities of hope for the future.
WE’RE BURNED OUT!!! Whether you’re working or sheltering you may not have considered the possibility of burn-out. This pandemic, the likes of which we have never seen in our lifetime, is causing us to spend an excessive amount of energy, more than we’re taking in. That is, in its pure form, the definition of burn-out.
Virtually every aspect of our lives right now is having to adjust to a ‘new normal.’ And this new normal demands energy from us that heretofore we have never had to expend, such as keeping up with the news and the many conflicting reports, attempting to learn something new about a global pandemic that is often beyond our scope of understanding, or working remotely which is a whole new way of life, and of course, giving up our close interaction with family and friends. That alone can be trying enough.
We humans recharge from seeing family and friends (not just talking to them over the phone), going to lunch, taking a shopping trip to the mall, hitting happy hour, going to the gym, getting your hair cut or colored….this pandemic has derailed us. Going grocery shopping has become a chore with all the lines and empty shelves. And the future of what we knew as our routines will probably never be the same, but we don’t know exactly what that means—so we end up spending more time and energy on the anxiety of it all.
My BoomerGuy and I are somewhat used to change, but obviously not as drastic as this. He was the CEO of several companies that would be termed ‘turn-arounds.’ As the trailing spouse, it was always up to me to work out the details of our new living arrangements and learn a new city and its environs. These companies were smaller and not the mega conglomerates that pay hefty salaries and provide unlimited perks. There were times we had to stretch in many ways to make our lives work and function somewhat normally. While it was fun and exciting to explore a new culture and way of life, it was also a bit draining because of the unknown. But you know what, we always persevered and got along just fine.
WE’RE ANGRY. I see people angry in the grocery stores, and the road rage seems to be worse than ever. But this is what has been handed to us, and my BoomerGuy and I definitely understand what’s going on. You can lay blame of this pandemic on whatever source you wish but the trickle down from the blame game is how you end up handling the cards that have been dealt all of us. Yes, all of us. We have an enormous loss of freedom, a loss of financial security, a loss of social interaction, and a loss of what we consider normal.
All of us Boomers have weathered a great deal during our lives, and we always made it, and yes we will continue to make through these terrible times. We learned long ago that anger over things that you cannot mostly control, is a totally wasted emotion. It takes way too much energy to muscle through it. We try to acknowledge the twists and turns of these new times and continue to focus on things that make us happy and satisfied. We’ve been busy inventing new projects around the house, cleaning out cupboards and closets and filing trash bins, donating to the local charity and thrift stores (most are still picking things up a the curb), digging in our mini-garden just to smell nature, taking long walks and bike rides (of course with a mask)…and we distance ourselves from the confounding news broadcasts which in and of themselves will make you confused and angry. Turn off the damned TV, unless it’s a worthwhile comedy, a follow along fitness program, documentary on the Discovery channel or a good movie that you find on your cable or streaming provider.
YOU’RE SURPRISINGLY CALM. The exact opposite of being burned out or angry, and you’re dealing with this issue because you realize you’re not in control of any external circumstances, only those for which you can control of your ownself. They’re saying us Boomers are much calmer than our Millennial, Gen-X, and Gen-Z counterparts. It might feel weird to be feeling a sense of calm, but therapists claim it’s a fairly common reaction. It might be out of avoidance, or because the coronavirus feels like a supernatural event. They also say it could be a direct sign that you’re more equipped to deal with all this than you thought.
My BoomerGuy and I are definitely on the calm side, because we’ve had so much thrown at us over the years we are natural survivors. Another therapist states that her clients that have gone through major stressors or life changing events are better equipped to handle the anxious moments of COVID-19. In other words, you’ve been there, done that, and you now have an unexpected sense of calm due to your previous experiences.
The fundamental underpinning and principle of BoomerGal is to share positivity and inspiration with my readers, and I’m confident you then share the same with your family and friends. In my humble opinion, you will have really crossed the threshold when you share those qualities with people you do not know—the strangers in the grocery line, paying it forward like my BoomerGuy did just recently on behalf of an 80-year old cancer survivor, etc. To that end, here are several recommendations you can tell yourself and those around you about how to get through these difficult times, and HOW TO SUCCEED IN AN UNPARALLELED CRISIS.
- Reward yourself with consistency, that is, stick to your routines as much as possible since we’re not leaving home—eat healthy, exercise as often as possible, get plenty of rest, and don’t over-indulge on anything harmful like alcohol, drugs, or smoking.
- Set up a schedule of times for speaking with family members and friends, and even neighbors. It will give you all something for which to look forward. Let them know that none of us has a great deal of clarity on what the future holds, but we will survive together.
- Learn as much as possible about the pandemic without going into sensory overload with fake news or false information. Then share the positives, but don’t sugarcoat, for example, the flattening of the curve, increased testing is denting the spread, businesses are beginning to open, albeit slowly, etc. Stay away from the harbingers of bd news like the death count, the awful protests, the politicizing of COVID-19.
- You need to be an inspiration to yourself and others. Take on the role and take the challenge and meet it head on. Talk about getting through this together and resetting the new future.
- Be sympathetic to the voices on the other end of the phone. Their crises might not be the same as yours, so offer your support and creative counseling, especially in light of not having the ‘touch factor’ in place. Case in point, I cannot visit my parents in the nursing home, so I’m relegated to comforting them when we speak on the telephone. I don’t sugarcoat with false expectations, on when the doors will once again open for visitation, and I stay away from making any comments about what I do not know to be true, but I do give them hope that everyone is working to that end.
- The goal here is to keep yourself intact and centered, along with everyone in your sphere of communication. Be a coach, think about what’s important for your family to hear and spread that willingly. Be a confidence builder. Listen to your own voice as you build confidence in others. It will help you immensely.
- And don’t forget social media, texting and emails. Share fun pictures or videos to give you and those on the receiving end all the joy possible.
Regardless of our point of reference, it is essential that we remember to embrace our own feelings and struggles and show compassion for the feelings and struggles of others. We are not alone in this journey, we are together with everyone else and we will get through this together.
The world has turned upside down, old folks are sneaking out of the house
and their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors.
“The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg,
It’s about what you’re made of, not the circumstances…“
Editorial contribution by Harvard Business Review